Hi there readers! Buenas tardes! That means good afternoon, fyi. Here in Guanajuato, Mexico, it is 19.30pm and yet everyone is persisting in yelling ‘good afternoon’ as opposed to good evening. They don’t start saying good evening until at least 8.30pm. But in a part of the world where restaurants don’t really fill up until 11.30pm I suppose this is reasonable.
I am sitting on a roof terrace overlooking the most mind-boggling sea of multi-coloured higgledy piggledy houses. They stretch away in all directions; up and down, left and right; framed on each side by mountains and blue skies. Although said skies do seem overly fond of knocking out daily monsoons. Pobody’s nerfect, I suppose.
The last six days have been totally awesome, give or take the usual travelling challenges. The Man and I have walked miles of Mexico City (God DAMN! What an awesome place it is!), we have stared at skulls in museums, smiled politely at ‘art’ in galleries, taken tea in Bohemian enclaves and climbed pyramids. We’ve wet ourselves laughing at Mexican wrestling and sat in subdued silence at fagot concerts. (A fagot is a bassoon. I cannot express how much I love this.) We have had those tumbleweed moments where we’ve shunned the tourist restaurants and instead gone and sat in the temporary food shacks where the workers eat (cue: total silence and a sea of bemused, staring faces,) and have enjoyed lovely moments when we’ve turned a corner and found a band of jolly Mariachis bellowing tunefully; we’ve had the odd fight/storm off/’f*ck you’ mutterings but have also lain in strange bumpy beds grinning into each others’ faces and capering around naked to Chava Flores, our hilarious new musical find.
Here are some good things and some bad things about our first week.
1. Mexicans. My god! Is literally everyone friendly? Even the homeless man who tried to rob The Man of his camera the other night was friendly! He gave The Man advice about the best way to drink beer! We’ve made wonderful friends with a clothes repair man called Nacho who is just about the friendliest person I have ever met; we’ve been helped by just about anyone who’s seen us stumbling around lost and we’ve been welcomed in both of our guesthouses so far as if we are old friends. Mexicans arriving in London must feel utterly bemused by our averted eyes and stoney faces. They seem to be a wonderful people.
2. Food. It is obscenely good. Fresh and spicy and delicious and cheap. The only problem with it is that I find myself unable to stop eating it; please refer to my list of BAD things below.
3. Writing. Much as I would like to be here swanning around I do actually have a full-time job – a thing which I appear to have forgotten in the last couple of months. However, I am pleased to report that work resumed on novel two yesterday and it’s (so far) going quite well. The process of re-acquainting myself with it has been like meeting a long-lost relative; it looks vaguely familiar but it’s a struggle to believe that it’s actually got anything to do with me. Fortunately though, I rather like it. My novel. It needs a lot of work (in the region of 50,000 words and some hard editing, to be precise) but I think it might be alright. Bit of a relief, that. Although during one of the sexy bits the main character describes her privates as being like hot molten lava. I think possibly that needs a bit of work.
NOT SO GOOD:
1. My Spanish has gone from bad to worse. It was crap anyway; in the seven weeks that I was back in London what little I had somehow vanished completely. This morning I asked the owner of our hostel if someone could wrestle the toilet. I am still awed at my choice of verb.
2. Being unable to stop eating. In a country where EVERYTHING IS DELICIOUS it is hard to do anything other than stuff my face. The Man is evidently appalled at my gung-ho attitude towards food hygiene. Having recently suffered something that was probably dysentery you’d think I’d be a little more careful but, readers, I am cramming pretty much anything I see into my gob. I couldn’t possibly tell you what I ate for lunch. It was wrapped in a burrito but beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. I just ate a cup of pomegranate seeds from a dirty stall and something that may or may not be yoghurt (I think it probably wasn’t) and soon am off to go and eat something unidentifiable from the hole in the wall at the end of my alleyway which smelled delicious last night. I’m a porker. I can’t stop.
Fortunately the nice french couple in their fifties in the room next to us are even worse. They’ve been up here on the roof terrace with me for the last three hours and the only time they’ve stopped eating is to drink Sol out of cans. They are portable mouths. They don’t even talk. And they’re both pretty scrawny, in spite of eating everything in Mexico so I feel a bit better about my levels of gorging.
3. Cockerels. Me and The Man are staying in a charming little slightly mad guesthouse, carved out of the side of a hill – beautiful views, lovely terrace from which I can write (pictured) and smiley welcoming owners. But there is a cockerel. And let me tell you, his days are numbered. FOUR THIRTY AM HE STARTED TODAY. DO YOU HEAR ME? I swear the little bastard was sitting on the end of our bed. And rather than knocking out a lovely, resounding cock-a-doodle-doo-yah-ok? like that beautiful, shiny English Cockerel on the Cornflakes packet, it was letting off the most foul screeches that made quite clear it was a ragged, crappy chav of a cockerel with the elocution of a sewer rat. “Muh muh muh muh MAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHHHHH” it screamed, relentlessly, from FOUR THIRTY THIS MORNING.
Tonight, I’m going to find and behead it. The Man will be my accomplice. As the sun rises this morning there will be nothing but the silent beauty of the sun uncurling over the peak of the mountains. The cockerel will be dead and me and The Man will be sitting in a Mexican jail, rather wishing we had just invested in better ear plugs. Wish us luck.
I send you all tacos and mole sauce. X